The series spans James Bone’s journalistic career in the Manchester Guardian’s London office (1902-1945) and continues in the years immediately following his retirement. The letters relate mainly to business connected with the paper, interwoven with some personal issues and references. There are not infrequent references to contributors, staff and staffing issues, letters about book and other artistic reviews and some discussion of the (1948) Scott Trust.
The correspondence features letters from and to Bone, with a further section featuring letters written to the writer, Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), who wrote reviews for the paper. The letters written by James Bone between 21 November 1932 and 10 November 1949, addressed mainly to Manchester Guardian staff, relate to diverse topics, including books, politics, staffing issues and the Scott Trust.
The largest section of correspondence comprises approximately 80 letters addressed to Bone, dating from 10 September 1905 to 5 September 1955, the majority of which are from Guardian staff and contributors. Writers include C.P. Scott (1846-1932), J.R. Scott (1879-1949) and Laurence Scott (1909-1983), former London editor John Black Atkins (1871-1954), editors W.P. Crozier (1879-1944) and A.P. Wadsworth (1891-1956), plus fellow newspaper men of other papers. Amongst the exchanges feature the names of leading literary figures, such as Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), writer and artist, Laurence Housman (1865-1959) and novelist and playwright John Galsworthy (1867-1933), plus artists, such as Francis Dodd (1874-1949), and his own brother, Muirhead Bone (1876-1953). There is a run of letters from fellow journalist and intended successor to the London editorship, Evelyn Montague (1900-1948), written in the two years before the latter’s early death from tuberculosis in 1948, plus correspondence from Madeline Montague (widow of C.E. Montague) regarding publication of her late husband’s work. The small selection of letters to Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), dating from 25 December 1898 to 21 February 1922, originates from various writers and journalists of the Manchester Guardian.
The news cuttings, ranging from 11 December 1907 to 3 July 1958, feature events relating to the paper and Guardian staff, predominantly retirements and obituaries, the paper’s centenary and the jubilee of the editorship of C.P. Scott (1846-1932) in 1921, plus other Guardian related items, such as the torpedoing of the Western Prince, on which James Bone was travelling on his return from an American trip in December 1940. A selection of miscellaneous manuscript, typed and printed items, photographs and visual matter from 1905 to 1952 includes items relating to Bone’s and other staff retirements, menus, speeches, reports and notes; there is also a notice listing directors and staff in 1956/1957.
Although somewhat inconsistent, the letters give a glimpse of the extent and breadth of Bone’s life as the paper’s London editor over a lengthy period, particularly in his literary and artistic connections.